Re: The return of authoritarian rule in Africa, by Zainab Suleiman Okino


Re: The return of authoritarian rule in Africa, by Zainab Suleiman Okino

I had the course to read your article in the Premium Times online with the above title. I appreciate your analysis but disagreed with your recommendation at the end calling for their sanctioning by aid donors as well as foreign investors.

I am therefore making some observations which should neither be seen as criticism nor endorsement but rather, as a way of drawing attention to what has always been overlooked by political commentators when it comes to Africa.

The history of Africa is so different from any other continent and its problems are beyond casual observation as it has defied development experts and confounded social commentators.

It has also baffled friends and foes alike. For many were the economic and development theories crafted by the experts from the West that have flatly failed to work on implementation on the continent. This is because its history is usually overlooked.

Africa is the only continent to have experienced the quadruple impact of Mercantile imperialism, the twin impact of both the Transaharan and the Transatlantic slave trade, Colonialism and its new version of Neo-Colonialism. While other continents might have experienced one of the above, only Africa has the dishonour of experiencing all.

When most of the African countries gained independence in the 60s, they inherited an economy providing special services for the West. It turned out to be an arrangement in which political independence was conceded for economic control by the departing powers.

Any attempt to change the status quo was resisted through military coups usually instigated and sponsored by the same forces that were later to insist on the transition to democracy as a precondition for aid (another name for dependency) and foreign investment.

Democracy as an ideal is worth any sacrifice, including dying for it. For many have lost their lives in its course. It is one of the progressive inventions in the efforts of man to provide for a system which not only provides for his security but provides an enabling environment in which he can pursue his political, economic and social objectives peacefully.

It also gives him the opportunity to accept, endorse or reject the policies of a government through periodic elections organised at intervals.

The authoritarian ambitions of the elected leaders are also checkmated by the term limits enshrined in the constitution. Added to these are the triple practices on which the practice of democracy is anchored, that is transparency, accountability and the freedom of association.

But the ideals of democracy can be achieved only on a self-sustaining economy which can guarantee the basic requirements of food, clothing and shelter. Where such are not accessible, democracy remains an ideal to be yearned for.

Africa’s transition to democracy which was midwifed in the 80s and 90s through coercion, threats of withholding aid and forceful economic reforms were promoted more as part of resurgent laissez-faire as the dominant universal economic system after the demise of socialism as a political and economic system.

Africa’s democratic transition was championed by advocates of the market economy for the benefit of the West and its Institutions rather than any other consideration. Its practice was preceded by the removal of all inbuilt mechanisms to protect the vulnerable (they call it subsidy removal) under pressure by the Western-dominated World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). This situation deprived the system of the ability to practicalise the ideals of democracy and to impact positively on the society, the failure of which has turned democracy into a suspect.

Thus, in-between the lack of enthusiasm for military adventurers and authoritarian rulers who were around for long, and whose past records are anything but complementary, and the self-restraint to defend the ousted system by all means and at all cost lies in the paradox of the observed failures of democracy and the return of authoritarianism as well as the solution.

If authoritarianism is so bad but people could not be resilient in resisting it, and if the democratic experiment is supposed to be better but are not willing to doggedly defend it at all cost and by all means necessary, then something must be fundamentally flawed with African democracy.

Authoritarianism can only be dealt with on the continent if democracy is made to provide the needs and aspirations of the people as against the present system which is essentially centred on providing an enabling environment for the thriving of laissez-faire economic system to the advantage of its local and international advocates and beneficiaries.

The democratic system as is being presently practised on the continent has only worsened the social disparity within and thereby undermined the resolve to resist authoritarianism. It is not the form that matters, but the substance. No enduring democracy can be built on a weak economic foundation where its shortcomings are pronounced.

Africa needs to go back to the drawing board to fashion a democratic system that will take into consideration its economic level of development and its historical antecedents.

A well-fed, clothed and sheltered citizenry will be better defenders of democracy than people alienated by a system in which they have nothing to lose.

In as much as democracy comes short of expectations, the threat of its collapse will continue to hover on the African continent with unforeseen outcomes.

This is my analysis, of the causes of the return of authoritarianism.

Abdullah Dan’azumi Mohamed Golkos.

CEO salasadis_course Pol. Consults.

What is glaring is that African countries are artificial creations. In most countries, the people were/ are not involved in the setting up of the democratic structures.

That being so when they are truncated the people show that it does not concern them. They are preoccupied with their daily survival.

Because the people never cared to erect power structures that they can control when the armed forces withdraw their allegiance from the government in power, it collapses, and they become the new rulers.

Why did a coup attempt fail in Turkey? Maybe the Turks are better educated, maybe because Erdogan is delivering, or maybe because it was viewed as foreign-sponsored.

And that brings forward another dimension to coups: my view is that they are usually sponsored by meddling powers. And France is the number one meddling power. Nobody stays in power in its possessions as long as he will not accept its dictation. And that dictation is to rob the captive country in order to enrich France.

Western powers respect spheres of influence between themselves.

Maybe because African politicians do not mean well for their people, they prefer to leave the people uneducated.

Personally, would I stick my neck out to defend the farce going on in Nigeria as a democracy? No.

Military rule may mean exclusion, that civilians do not influence policies. Do ordinary people, even elites outside government influence policies in our democracy? Our democracy is a more costly form of exclusion.

However disruptive it might be, we need a governance system where a government can be brought down constitutionally before its term expires.

As it is today, we elect our enslavers.

Abdullahi Musa <>

Zainab Suleiman Okino can be reached at or

Re: The return of authoritarian rule in Africa, by Zainab Suleiman Okino


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